One of the most common questions we hear is, “How often should I water my new plants?” It’s important – get it right, and your plants thrive. Get it wrong and … well, we’ve all been there. Too much water is just as harmful as too little. In fact, we replace more plants due to overwatering than underwatering.
When it comes to watering plants, you’ve got to consider many factors:
- Type of plant
- Location – is it on flat ground, a hill, or a basin?
- Type of soil
- Amount of sun
- Kind of watering – direct hose spray, oscillating, sprayer, or irrigation?
Think it through. All of these variables impact how much you need to water your plants.
Watering new plants
A few tricks of the trade can make a huge difference. Keep in mind:
- The smaller the plant, the quicker it will dry out.
- Flowers, perennials, and grasses do better with daily light watering initially.
- Medium plants in the shrub category need to be watered about every other day, but you’ll water slightly longer – enough to get the root ball moist.
- Trees will take the most water, but perhaps only once or twice a week.
You don’t need to water any of your new plants for long periods of time. The roots are only on the very surface.
Maintaining new plants
To know how much water to put on your new plants, you’ve just got to do one thing: check them.
Yep, pretty basic. And easy, too. Push away the mulch to expose the soil. You’ll be able to tell how wet the soil is. Check in sunny areas and in shady spots. This will give you a pretty good idea of the condition of the soil and the amount of water needed. And if you have two or three inches of mulch on top, you’ll probably notice that even when the mulch on the surface looks dry, the soil is often very moist below. That mulch is keeping the soil from drying out.
After checking your plants a few times, you’ll know what areas need more water and which ones need less. Completely dry is bad. Standing water is bad. You’re shooting for in between.
Once plants are settled in
We often see a honeymoon period with new plants. People will be diligent in watering for the first month or so, and then they pay less and less attention to their new plants. As the roots spread out, the plant does have a greater capacity to obtain water from the soil. But in summer, they won’t be nearly as drought tolerant as existing plants in the landscape. Continue to be vigilant in the hot weather.
How to water with an irrigation system
A sprinkler system can be convenient. But you still need to check your plants. Overwatering with an irrigation system is way too easy. Your lawn will need more water to prevent the grass from going into drought stress. But your landscaping? Not so much.
Some sprinkler systems can be set up for zone watering. But if you don’t have this feature and are watering every day, your plants will be overwatered. In this case, turn down the lawn irrigation. Get more attuned to what the landscaping needs – which is probably twice a week.
In Kansas City, our hot summer weather usually breaks between the 5th and the 15th of September. That’s a great time to turn off your irrigation or turn the interval way down. If you’ve been watering regularly, once a week will be plenty.
Watering established plants
Plants that have been around a while have much more developed root systems and are more resistant to drought. If you look at the soil around a tree, it may be bone dry, but the tree will be fine. Unless we’re in an extended drought, you might not need to water. Make sure that your plants get significant moisture at least once a month in the growing season and twice a month in the heat of the summer. Either by rain or by hose is fine.
Watering in winter
Usually, soil dries out very slowly in colder temperatures. But if we have a very dry fall or no precipitation in the winter, plants can get stressed and die. You may need to get the hose out on a mild November or even December day. Just pay attention to the weather and your plants.
At Good Earth Water Gardens, we understand that landscaping is always evolving. Whether you need guidance on caring for new plants or have some long-established plantings that need some TLC, we can help. Give us a call at 816-749-8090.